Painting the Stars

written by mtgranola

random ranting: I realize that I have two other fics out there that I should be working on, but well, um...okay so I have way too much time on my hands because spring semester is over and my imagination has been working overtime!

Disclaimer: I don't own Kenshin or any of his buddies, I just like to torment them…oops, did I just say that out loud? However, Sing to Me and Swallow Me in Darkness are both original poems by me and are copyrighted. So don't use 'em! If you do I will resurrect Shishio and sic him on you!

Chapter One:

Imagination is more important than knowledge—Einstein.

I took my thumb and gently rubbed the paint into the canvas, loving the feeling of the viscous material underneath my hands. I absentmindedly wiped that same appendage on my clothes, not really caring if they stained. They were my clothes, after all, and if I wanted to go around looking like an industrial accident at the Windsor and Newton oil paint factory, then I would.

I take the fan brush from between my teeth, eyeing the image for a moment before carefully blending the pigments together. I mold the paint to form my picture, using the paint brushes as the manipulators. This is my peace, my quiet repose from the world around me. Loud, chaotic, always moving.

I don't have to move here, I can get lost in time. This is my world.

I stepped back from the easel and set the brush down on the nearby tableau, criticizing my own hands. I've always been told that most artists are their own worst critics, and I find that to be the truth.

Nothing is ever good enough, even though my friends and various admirers always say differently. But it is my peace, I should be able to find some happiness in it.

I don't truly follow any particular style, though it has been called everything from something reminiscent of German Expressionism all the way to Photorealism. But it is not that, it is my own unique blend of styles that I have made completely my own.

I looked around the small studio that also served as my resting place, glancing at the clock. Three in the morning apparently, and I mentally groaned. Good thing that I didn't have to work until one in the afternoon today, but I would be exhausted by the time of the opening.

Not my first opening for an exhibit, but the first one that was completely my own. No other people's work mingled with mine. Just my own images, a serious of timed life-studies using only the three basic colors: blue, red, and yellow. Smooth and flowing, light and choppy; my vision of the people that stood before me.

Beautiful, happy, sad, or ugly, I wanted to paint them all. They were all beautiful to me, and I liked to think that I showed that through my brushes. The human body was a miracle of nature, every piece having it's own specific purpose, every being having a heart be it good or bad.

I scrubbed out my brushes and carefully wrapped up my paints so that they would not dry out over night. Then I turned my attention of myself, viciously scrubbing so that no trace of the oil paints stained my arms or hands. I looked in the mirror only to see a light lavender streak across my forehead and down the side of my nose. Perhaps I should leave those, they somewhat matched the two purple locks of hair that hung down either side of my face.

As forgiving as my boss at the coffee house usually was, I don't think she'd appreciate it if I came to work with my passion displayed for the whole world to see. Customers don't care to see their baristas in such a state of disorder.

I carefully began to scrub the delicate tissue of my face with a cloth until it was raw, removing all traces of my other life.

I sighed out loud and set the cloth in the hamper that only held my rags full of oil paint. I'd have to wash them soon, I noticed I smelled the almost overpowering scent of linseed oil, before the whole building started to reek.

Yes, I used linseed oil in my paints. There was nothing quite like the smell of turpentine or linseed oil. It was like a drug that I was addicted to. Of course, there's so many different products on the market that take less time to dry or such as the case of turpentine, much less hazardous to one's life and health. But that didn't matter, I may not be a traditionalist per say, but I was a staunch traditionalist when it came to my paintings.

I was convinced that nothing cleaned like turpentine, nothing flowed like linseed oil. And I never really like how my paintings looked if I used anything else. It always looks so…plastic. Unreal somehow.

I pulled of my shirt and jeans , casually throwing them over the pack of my stool that I used to sit in front of my easel for hours on end. I'd clean them later, now was the time to get to bed.

I laid down on the futon couch that served as my bed. I couldn't remember the last time it had actually been laid down flat to serve as a bed. Possibly the last time I had brought a boyfriend up for the night, but those had been so few and far between I couldn't be sure.

As I closed my eyes, my painting became real, a Technicolor dream that I am always striving to paint.


"Kaoru! Hey Kaoru! Open the door already!" I heard my best friend Misao call from the other side of my door.

"Misao! It's too early! Go away!" I yelled back grumpily, burying my head underneath my pillow.

"KAORU!" she whined and I winced. I should probably answer that before my neighbors downstairs began to complain about her racket.

"Coming. I'm coming! Quit fucking shouting already!" I mumbled as I open the door to be greeted by an overly energetic young woman. I always wondered how someone could be so cheerful in the morning.

Misao grinned up at me, her green eyes shining with mischief.

"Pray tell why it was so urgent for you to come and wake up the whole apartment building." I asked her, walking over to the small kitchenette to start some coffee.

I proceeded to ignore her as she gushed about the love of her life, Shinomori Aoshi, occasionally nodding my head or grunting an answer. I really shouldn't be acting like this, she was one of my best friends after all, but it's so god-damned early in the morning! 9:22 in the morning to be precise.

"Misao, you do realize that some people prefer to sleep in the mornings, don't you?" I asked her, pouring myself and my hyperactive friend a cup of coffee. Probably not the best of ideas, Misao certainly didn't need to be any more genki than she already was. I sighed, I was just going to have to buy some decaf for these occasions.

"You waste the day that way!"

" Whatever." I told her, completely exasperated by her cheery personality, "I'm certain you didn't come over to wake me up at such a god-awful hour just to tell me about that block of ice."

"Mou! Kaoru, Aoshi-sama isn't like that!"

"Bullshit and you know it. Come on, Misao, spill it. Why are you here?"

"Well, I wanted to come over and see what you where wearing tonight."

"Probably a nice pair of jeans and a blouse."

"Kaoru! You can't! It's your first opening, you need to make an impression."

I grimaced slightly, she was sounding too much like my friend Megumiat this point.

"I don't see why, the people come to see the art, not the artist."

"Mou! That's not true!"

"Misao." I warned her.

"Come on!" She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door. "We're going shopping! And no complaining because I'm buying!"

"Misao! I can't!"

"And why not?" She put one of her hands on her hips.

"Well, for one, I'm not going out in my pajamas and for two, I refuse for you to take pity on me and buy me clothes!"

"I'm not taking pity on you Kaoru! I just want to give my best friend a present to celebrate her big opening!" Misao stopped and smiled at me, noticing the bright red my cheeks had turned in my shame. "Now, go get a quick shower and then we'll go, all right?"

I couldn't help but smile back at her. "All right, thank you, Misao."

"No problem! Now hurry up!"

"Yessir! Rightaway sir!" I said with a mock salute before turning around and heading to the small room that served as my bathroom. It was a toilet and a small shower nothing to get too excited about. It didn't even have a sink! But that's okay, I was saving loads of money by renting out the small room that also served as my studio, which meant that I could spend more on my passions. Especially since the good quality paint was fairly expensive, even for the small tubes. And brushes! Don't even get me started on brushes! My tastes in brushes, especially my favorite type that used all natural sable bristles tended to run into the high price range.

I turned the water on hot and let it burn away on my skin to the point that I became a good and proper lobster. I scrubbed my hair clean with my favorite shampoo and conditioner before allowing the water to rinse it clean. I stepped out and wrapped a towel around me, not caring if I made little water puddles as I walked over to my chest of drawers and the rolling rack I used to hang up my clothes.

Jeans and a tank top, not too original, but oh well. I didn't really dress to impress anyone other than myself.

"Ready?" Misao asked me as she opened the door.

"Ready as I've ever be." I responded, grabbing my wallet and my cigarettes before walking out of my apartment.

I sighed inwardly to myself, it was going to be a very long day.


Three hours later Misao deposited me on the front steps of the coffee house I worked at, promising to see me at closing time so that we could head back over to her place and get me ready for my big night.

I stepped into the dark café and made my way behind the counter, saying my greetings to my co-workers and boss while slipping into my apron.

It was pretty slow for right now, probably wouldn't pick up until happy hour which was still an hour and a half away.

"Hey, Kaoru."

"Yes, Tae-san?"

"Since we're so slow right now, why don't you go over and test out the new sound equipment I bought for open mike night?"

"Sure. Any requests?"

"No, play whatever you want, dear, just watch the swearing okay?"


I slipped back out of my apron and picked up the acoustic guitar that had a sound box placed underneath it's strings. Kind of like an electric guitar, but without all the fancy doodads on there. I actually hadn't been to open mike night in awhile, being so caught up in my paintings, but it was the one night of the week that the coffeehouse stayed open until midnight. Usually it was a bunch of punk kids that came in, trying to wow everybody with their highly unoriginal and badly done covers.

Sad, but true.

I set the guitar across my lap, and gently strummed the strings before tuning it the way I desired. I picked out a couple of notes before I began to sing softly. I don't know if I sing well or not, to tell you the truth, but no one except my little brother Yahiko ever complained.

Talk to me

Sing to me

Sing to me your sweet songs of misery


In my pathetic existence.

Sing to me your songs

Of bittersweet memories

Beautiful sorrows

And proud failures.

Two men walked into the coffeehouse at this point, heading straight for the counter and ignoring the girl singing up on stage. One was short, with red hair and violet eyes, a violent cross-shaped scar upon his cheek. His companion was much taller, with short spiky hair that refused to be tamed.

"Hey Tae, where's jou-chan? She'd usually working at this time."

"Oh hello, Sanosuke-san. Kaoru is up on the stage testing out the equipment I bought for our open mike nights."

Talk to me

Sing to me

Sing to me your sweet songs of misery


In my pathetic existence.

"So, not only does she paint, dabble in photography, and silk screen she can sing and play the guitar as well?"

"Hai. She's a very energetic girl with many interests."

Let me grasp

A thread of understanding

To comprehend

The thing I have left scattered among the erratic paths of my existence.

"So what can I get you and your friend today, Sanosuke-san?"

"I'll take a triple shot mocha, and one of those coffeecake muffins I like so much…. Hey, Kenshin! What do you want?"

"Oh, I'll take an Iced Chai, please."

"Okay, do you want that to stay or to go?"

"Oh, we'll take it…."

"We'll stay here, Sano." Kenshin spoke up, but not looking at him. Instead his gaze was directed towards the slight woman singing on stage. Two purple locks of hair framed her face, and her eyes were closed as she lost her self in the melody.

Sano just smirked as he saw his best friend and employer eyeing the girl he had come to think of as a sister since she started working at his favorite coffeehouse over a year ago. He knew what Kenshin was thinking, but he wasn't about to let it happen.

Talk to me

Sing to me

Sing to me your sweet songs of misery.

Thing things I have left half-finished thrown off to the side,

Never to be picked up again.

Talk to me,

Sing to me,

Sing to me your sweet songs of misery

So that I too, understand.

I strummed the final chord and let it fade off into nothingness, and was startled by the round of applause I was receiving from the few customers in the café.

"Thanks you guys." I said and I'm sure that my face was almost as red as a tomato at the moment.

"Hey Jou-chan! Play another!" I heard a familiar voice call.

I looked over to my friend and daily tormentor, Sanosuke, whom I affectionately referred to as 'tori-atama' most of the time. And my heart almost stopped when I saw the man sitting next to him, looking at me with violet eyes. His long red hair was tied up high upon his head, and I'm pretty sure that I have never met a person so…well, beautiful.

I noticed I was staring a little too hard, and I'm pretty sure that my jaw had dropped to the floor. It didn't help that the man was smirking at me…. Oh, so he was one of those men, he knew he was gorgeous and he was probably a playboy with a new woman in his bed every night.

I couldn't stop the scowl that came to my face, but I forced it into a strained smile as I tore my gaze away from him.

"Okay, tori-atama. I'll sing another if it's okay with Tae-san." I called over to him. I smirked at his flustered expression and the scowl over the use of my nickname for him. He turned to ask Tae if it was alright and she looked at me and smiled, giving me the go ahead.

I readjusted the guitar strap, making it more comfortable in my grasp before I started to play another tune.

Swallow me in darkness

The cool breeze of the night

"So you know her, 'tori-atama'?" Kenshin turned to ask his friend, a slight smirk on his face.

"Yes, I do know her." Sano replied scowling at his boss, "And I know what you're thinking and the answer is 'no'. You're not going to do anything with Jou-chan up there."

"Why? Is she taken?"

"I don't know, and it don't matter. I'm not going to let you hurt her, Kenshin."

Thousands of twinkling stars

Knowing they don't care

Moonlit hours of dreams that will never come true

"Kenshin." Sano warned, "I know how you treat your women, and Jou-chan deserves to be treated better than that."

"I treat my women wonderfully, Sano. I buy them nice presents, wine and dine them…"

"And then break their hearts." Sano finished for him. "Jou-chan's not like other girls, she'd special, and I don't want her to have to suffer like that because of you."

Kenshin sighed, "Fine, all right, all right. You win. She's off limits. Unless…" Kenshin regarded the man next to him slyly, "You want her all to yourself."

"No!" Sano defended himself, "It's not like that…it's just, you know…."

But it's nice to believe

That it's real for a moment or two.

"Well, if you haven't claimed her, then I don't see a problem with it." Kenshin smirked.

"Kenshin, I swear if you hurt her…. I don't care if you're my best friend or my boss, I will make you pay."

Pray to the moon

That the sun never rise

Know that you must go home…


But it's nice to believe

That's it's real for a moment or two.

"Don't worry, Sano." Kenshin assured his friend, "I'll ask her out, and if she refuses that'll be the end of it."

Sano didn't answer deciding instead to take a sudden interest in the coffeecake muffin he had ordered.

Straight into the mouth of madness

Thinking for a moment that it can't be true

Walking on a twisted path

Strewn with fragments of shattered dreams.

Picking up the pieces

To put them back together…

But it's nice to believe

That is was real for a moment or two.

But it's nice to believe

That is was real for a moment or two.

I finished with my second song, and blushed again as the customers applauded. I looked at the clock and realized it was close to happy hour so I put the guitar back into it's case quickly and slipped my apron back on. I didn't go over and talk to Sano, as I usually would have done, but there was just something about that man next to him….

I could either love him or hate him to be sure, but in fear of both I decided that I didn't even want to face him.

I didn't want to lose myself to him.

And being a romantic and an artist, I knew that it would be alltoo easy for me to do so.

I heard Sano calling out a good-bye as he left and I raised my head to give him a smile and a wave, only to be met with those violet eyes again. I quickly looked away, yes it would be all too easy to lose myself to that man….


end chapter one

So what do you guys think? This was kind of a challenge to myself to see if I could right in a first person kind of role. (it's amazing how taking a semester off of college frees up so much of your time) I'd appreciate your thoughts on whether or not I should continue with this fic.